Shout for joy. Jump up and down with excitement. Smile from ear to ear.
Deaundre Jones-Williams had every reason to express himself in any of those ways when his agent informed him that the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League wanted to sign him.
Instead, the Woodbridge High School graduate felt something different.
“For real?” a shocked Jones-Williams recalled telling his agent.
Jones-Williams struggled to understand why a pro football team was reaching out to him now.
After finishing up his final season of college football in the fall of 2017 with Division II Glenville State (W.Va.), Jones-Williams hoped to keep playing somewhere. He stayed in shape and tried out for three different CFL teams last fall.
But when none of those teams responded with a follow-up, Jones-Williams figured his playing days were done.
“Nothing had happened,” Jones-Williams said. “I thought football was over.”
Then in late November, Jones-Williams’ agent said Montreal was interested. The Alouettes had no previous contact with Jones-Williams and were not among the three CFL teams he tried out for.
But the interest was real. On Dec. 11, Jones-Williams signed with Montreal. A month later, the Alouettes announced he was one of 11 players assigned to their roster along with three draft picks.
Jones-Williams said he is scheduled to report to training camp May 19. In the meantime, he will continue to train while working fulltime as an engineer for an IT company in Reston.
Jones-Williams said his opportunity with Montreal was not a surprise to others.
“There were Division I guys I worked out with who kept wondering why I had not been given a chance,” Jones-Williams said.
Jones-Williams walked on at Glenville State, but was ineligible his freshman year after he said the NCAA did not accept one of his classes. Jones-Williams then red-shirted in 2014 before eventually becoming a starter.
He was an all-Mountain East Conference honorable mention selection in 2017 after catching 49 passes for 723 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also grabbed 41 passes for 666 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Jones-Williams, who graduated from Woodbridge in 2012, said his biggest asset is his speed. Jones-Williams said he ran a 4.39 40 in his tryout with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks.
Jones-Williams was an all-conference outdoor sprinter at Glenville State after finishing third in the 100 and 200. He was also a member of the program’s conference-champion 400-meter relay team that set a school record.
“I’ve always flown under the radar my whole life,” Jones-Williams said.